As you will see, I was writing this up daily and am posting it unchanged, so it may be a bit disjointed. A couple more posts will see it through, I should think. I’m finally downloading photos, nearly 300 of them – Mig must have thousands. Anyway, this is what I wrote a week ago –
I have arranged a blog meet with Zoë, onetime Pandora ‘My Boyfriend is a Twat’, late of Brussels, now in Crewe. We are Facebook friends as fellow tortoise owners, as well as through blogging. This is for Thursday night. In the meantime, the journey back will be fairly relaxed. Maybe I will manage a few locks.
For the first time, I’m up to date with writing this log. Now 10.45 on Monday night and we’re all ready for bed. All this fresh air and exercise. And alcohol, hem hem…
Tuesday. It’s cold and windy, though a sunny day. Moderate traffic on the canal and we haven’t had to wait at the couple of locks we’ve been through, though were fortunate in having the water level right as we went in the first and someone wanting to come after us the other way, so we could leave the end gate open. We are heading for a side canal, the Montgomery Canal, where one can only use the Frampton locks between 12 and 2 pm and that by booking ahead. There has been a lot of restoration along here over the last 30 years, it having been abandoned by its owners, the LMS railway, following a breach in 1936. A breach is when a canal bursts its bank and can be quite disastrous – in this case, it happened at an aqueduct and a new one was finally built to replace it. We will go along this canal this afternoon, for the 7 miles that have been restored, and return tomorrow morning, to rejoin the Llangollen canal.
Tuesday 28th, 6.30 pm
We have come to the end of the navigable part of the Montgomery canal after four hours’ travel and are all sitting companionably with glasses of wine, each of us planning to shower and change before heading for the pub, where we have a table booked for 7.45. Mig and I have opened and closed a number of locks – I’ve lost count, there were four close together, then another and – oh, maybe 8 altogether. The canal is quiet and lovely, with lots of wildlife. It is also shallow and we have been close to aground on several occasions. I steered for some time and negotiated my way onto the short aqueduct as if I really knew what I was doing. Mig kindly operated the throttle for me, bending down to that was one job too far, but it went well, as did a bridge and a narrow bit that I barely scraped at all, hem hem. The day warmed up and the wind became less keen and we all shed a few layers.
We will have to leave in good time in the morning, as the locks at the end are only open from 12 until 2 daily, but we have already turned round because Barney is a man of sound sense and practicality.
I occasionally get a 3G signal for a few minutes, but it’s not time enough to post anything, so I’m just occasionally bobbing up on Facebook for a few minutes, which is how I contacted Zoë. As ever, I marvel at how smartphones and wifi has changed our lives. I’m not among those who say it’s too much, too far, we’re dominated by them and so on – this is all good, as far as I’m concerned.
Excellent meal and we all tasted each others’ food and approved. Very full. I’m quite concerned about the weight I’m going to have gained by the time I get home. We start with a substantial cooked breakfast, have cake for a snack and then eat lunch, then have a big meal in the evening. I’m known for never missing a meal, but this is pushing it.
On Wednesday, we set out early, at 8 o’clock, because we wanted to get through the locked locks in time. They open at noon and you have to be there by two, and have booked in – this is no one being awkward, but an agreement with the nature conservancy people that this 7 mile stretch of canal may be used, but in strict moderation. We had to wait – there was only one boat ahead of us, but one coming the other way too. It’s most efficient to have boats go through alternate ways. But we made good time after that and I steered pretty well, later in the afternoon, through several bridges. Not so good at the first one, which was fine as far as it went, but afterwards I turned a bit late and we ran aground again. Barney has done too, it can happen when you’re passing another boat or going past a narrow bit, but I’m the one doing it through ignorance and he certainly isn’t. But anyway, after that I actually started to get a feel for it and know what to do when without having to think it through too much.
Tonight, Thursday, we’re moored on a bend near a bridge. It’ll take about 8 hours to get back to the marina and we hope to be there between 4 and 5 tomorrow. We will start to pack up, go out for dinner, meet Zoë and Richard and then, the next morning, finish loading our cars and leaving the boat tidy.